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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories: Touching the Garment – God’s Healing Love

Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages

for twelve years. She had endured much..., and she was no better. She

had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched

his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.”

Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she

was healed of her disease. (See: Mark 5:21-43)

Wounds hurt. They sap our strength. They weaken us. Wounds leave us with a certain separation from the whole or from those not wounded. Wounds cry out for healing. A very wise doctor once remarked: “The role of the doctor is not to get in the way of the healing.” The unspoken part of this piece of wisdom is what comes next - the doctor’s role is to accompany the wounded, to be with them in their hurt.

At this time in our collective history, we are a wounded people. First Nations Peoples, Canadians, Catholics, we all carry the wounding of our past. There is much pain and suffering in our wounding. It cries out for healing. The scars remain. They are deep and they are long-lasting. They hurt terribly. Now, when the wound is open and crying out, is the time for the doctor’s wise advice. It is time to stand with the wounded.

We cannot make the wound heal. Its scar will be with us for a long time. Now is the time for us to recognize that we must stand with the wounded. The deepest wound, the greatest scar is borne by our First Nations People. Their healing is crucial. It will only happen when we who bear the history of how this happened are willing to reach out and accompany them in their pain and suffering. We cannot make the wound heal, but we must stand with them in their pain, in love and compassion.

Mark’s Gospel presents us with the healing Jesus. In the very poignant account of a woman who had suffered for years, we discover the loving touch of God that Jesus brings to us. Having heard of Jesus, she was unable to get close to him, but thought: “If I but touch his clothes.” What faith!

The Gospels are full of stories of Jesus as he heals people. What is this all about? The temptation is to see Jesus as a wonder-worker, a miracle-maker, someone who suspends the rules of the natural order in order to heal. To be sure there may be some instances of physical healing. But if we stop there, we miss the real point of these accounts.

Jesus is the incarnate presence of God – God who is present to us, sharing our humanity. To say this is to say that Jesus reveals the love in which God holds each and every one of us in humanity. He is the touch of God’s love for us all. When we stand with another in the midst of suffering, we express the incarnation. We speak God’s love.

In the midst of the suffering we witness in our First Nations peoples, how do we stand with them as church, as a people who seek to reveal God’s love? As Canadian Catholics the most direct and straight-forward way, is to take seriously the “Calls to Action” set forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2012 [Available online], in particular #48-49 and #58-61. Now is the time.

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